Corresponding to this months review of Kenneth Knudsen’s “Music For Eyes” (See April 99’ AAJ), we pulled one of Knudsen’s 1994 releases from the archives which shows the Danish synthesist in a slightly different light. On “Sounds and Silence”, Knudsen employs soloist’s throughout most of these pieces which also includes Scandinavia’s well known and esteemed jazz trumpeter, Palle Mikkelborg.
The series of works (Part I-VII) are vignettes or segments of the main compositional theme; hence, the album title. Many of these pieces serve as tone poems featuring soloist’s who provide nuance, color, accent and most importantly add a different and relatively exciting dimension to Knudsen’s “wall of sound” backwash of synths, electronics and overall expansive ambiance. “Part I” introduces the great trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, whose whispery and atmospheric flugelhorn work supplies a mystical or enchanting melody line to Knudsen’s swirling array of synthesizer choruses which seem almost symphonic and large-scale by design. Percussionist Marilyn Mazur, adds timbre as she utilizes delicate sounding instruments such as bells and tiny cymbals while electric bassist Peter Friis Nielsen provides the lead with probing single note runs, offsetting Knudsen’s drones and grandiose synth orchestrations. As the movements progress, we witness lush, sweet violins as various motifs and passages subliminally suggest a peaceful co-existence with nature.
The CD cover art depicts a colorful yet dreamlike pastoral setting, which is analogous to the music being represented. Mikkelborg, saxophonist Fredrik Lundin and violinist Kim Sjorgren all play a vital role throughout this project. Sequences of soloing prove to be thoughtful and at times animated.
The second major piece, composed by Knudsen is titled “Morning Clouds” which is a concerto of sorts for electric guitarist Jesper Lutzhoft. Here, Lutzhoft utilizes delay mechanisms, volume control pedals and other effects as he successfully achieves a sonorous and mystical sound which makes it difficult to believe that someone is actually playing the guitar.
“Sounds and Silence” is a pleasant listening experience and exemplifies Knudsen’s multi-dimensional traits as a composer and musician. The often fragile nature of these compositions coupled with enthusiastic support from the musicians succeeds in conveying man’s relationship with earth. Recommended *** ½
Kenneth Knudsen; keyboards: Palle Mikkelborg; Trumpet, Flugelhorn: Marilyn Mazur; Percussion: Fredrik Lundin; Soprano, Tenor saxes: Peter Friss Nielsen; Electric Bass: Kim Sjogren; Violin.